March 26, 2023 — Fifth Sunday of Lent

Solidarity Sunday

Readings: Ezekiel 37:12-14; Psalm 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8; Romans 8:8-11; John 11:1-45 Or John 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33b-45

I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own soil.

Ezekiel 37:14

Let us shine the light of faith

This Solidarity Sunday, we are called to Stand for the Land through a joint expression of faith and almsgiving. Today’s first reading (Ezekiel 37:12-14) alludes to this theme through a powerful description of God’s words to Ezekiel: “I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own soil.” The preceding verses describe God breathing life into the Valley of Bones―a miraculous resurrection of the army of Israel. How fitting that, in today’s reading, the Lord is asking His people to stand for the land.

In the verses prior to God’s message of hope and restoration, the risen army first expresses collective dejection, saying, “our hope is lost, we are cut off completely (Ezekial 37:11).” For many environmental defenders in the Global South who are standing for the rights of their communities, a similar response would seem reasonable. How is hope to be found in rural communities experiencing violence, environmental disasters and displacement stemming from the actions of powerful industries and governments?

For many, the foundations of that hope can be found in Pope Francis’ reflection that “As stewards of God’s creation, we are called to make the earth a beautiful garden for the human family. When we destroy our forests, ravage our soil and pollute our seas, we betray that noble calling.” Pope Francis also describes the tremendous hope offered by God, “the light that illuminates the darkness, even if it does not dissolve it” and reminds us that “a spark of divine light is within each of us.” These thoughts are, in part, what motivated Development and Peace – Caritas Canada’s five-year orientation to Create Hope.

One way in which this hope finds expression is through international solidarity. This includes recognizing the interconnectedness of our human family and acting to support those in need around the world. For instance, we work in partnership with CEHPRODEC, a Honduran organization that accompanies Indigenous communities and rights defenders; raises awareness about ecological and economic issues; resists unjust laws and policies; and has even helped to sensitize Canadians to the inadequacies of their own corporate laws.

In this example, we can see international solidarity―between Hondurans and Canadians―breathing life into communities that care for creation. One can imagine Víctor Vásquez, a falsely imprisoned Honduran land defender who was released through CEHPRODEC’s assistance, as a modern expression of God’s calling for the Israelites to rise up, resist despair and defend their land and communities.

Today’s Gospel reading contains the second most famous resurrection in the Bible―that of Lazarus. Christ’s words just before the miracle, offer the most profound testament of hope: “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live.” Those who saw Lazarus emerging from the tomb must have felt both radical hope and profound disbelief. Witnessing those in the Global South who, despite threats to their lives and wellbeing, continue to fight for God’s creation, can ignite similar feelings of surprise and optimism.

This Solidarity Sunday, we are invited to reflect on the profound hope and transformative nature of our faith. Let us shine the light of that faith onto the darkest peripheries of our world. May we be open to God’s desire to breath His spirit into us, so that we can plant our feet firmly and stand for the land.

Author: Jeremy Laurie, animator for British Columbia and Yukon, Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada

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